Free Early Years CPD – Autumn Summit 2017

There is nothing like a bit of FREE, quality Early Years CPD. When some comes along, then it is worth sharing. I have asked Kathy ( to give us an insight into her up and coming Autumn Summit…

Autumn Summit 2017

Over the past few months it has been my great pleasure and honour to talk with world-class specialists and experts about Physical Development in the Early Years.

There have been some common themes that have come up again and again, such as the importance of being out in nature as well as outdoor play for physical development. There were also some fascinating insights into the biology of growing children and how this affects their development.

For example, Dr Lala Manners explained how there are four primary determinants of childhood obesity – nutrition; physical activity; sleep and sedentary behaviour. Out of this list, sleep was a thought provoking aspect for me, especially if children are not getting a good night’s sleep, followed by sugary cereal and watching a screen in the morning. Dr Manners discussed many more aspects of childhood obesity, but it was that one that really stuck in my mind.

Similarly, Sally Goddard Blythe, who examined baby reflexes in detail, talked about how the persistence of certain reflexes in babies can be linked to specific educational difficulties. Obviously this requires proper screening and medical diagnosis, and there are likely to be a combination of factors. But it still struck me that I had always assumed that the reflexes that babies have from birth are inhibited quite naturally and that this would never be a problem. It has certainly made me more curious about some of the more deeply embedded causes of educational difficulties and look beyond the surface symptoms.

Anne O’Connor focused on the multi-sensory aspects of children’s physical development and its holistic nature. The example she used was rolling down a grassy slope, which is often used as an example of the vestibular (balance) mechanisms. However, Anne took this a step further and explained how this can be such a powerful experience because children not only remember the rolling, but the smell of the grass and the blue of the sky as well. This really made me reflect on how I present experiences for children, and to remember to consider all the senses, all the time.

Finally, Jan White had lots of great information, from the links between gesture and language to ‘brain derived neurotrophic factor’ (BDNF). This was the first time I had heard of BDNF, so was enthralled to hear how it affects the nervous system, and is important for memory and learning. But is produced in the greatest quantities when children are moving, so certain types of movement and children’s learning are biologically linked. And that’s just two of the great many things that Jan explored in her interview!
Although I have selected just a few things to talk about here, there were many, many ‘light bulb’ moments during the Summit that I will be re-reading and thinking about. It really has been an enjoyable – and energizing – process.


I hope you enjoy it too!


Kathy Brodie


You can find full details of the Summit here


You can see some small examples taken from the 10 hours of videos here:





Filed under: ABC Does A Blog, Child Initiated Learning, Creativity

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